Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Smith, 1761 September 15


abstractWheelock writes of Occom’s mission to the Oneidas, of the preparations of Samuel Kirtland for mission work, and of the general progress of the charity school. In a postscript, Wheelock states that Occom was educated entirely by him, and not at college.

handwritingHandwriting is relatively clear and tidy, with some deletions and additions.

paperLarge sheet folded in half to make four pages is silked along horizontal creases; there is some wear at edges.

inkHeavy and blotchy in spots.

noteworthyOn one recto, second paragraph, the "three Mohawke lads" are Joseph Brant, Negyes, and Center. On one verso, second paragraph, one of the Delaware girls is Miriam Storrs; in the same paragraph "...one of the Girls which I have been so long expecting..." is likely Amy Johnson. On one verso, fourth paragraph, the two Delawares are Joseph Woolley and Hezekiah Calvin. Some contents are similar to those of 761404. Wheelock discusses the belief that Indians are the "10 Tribes of the House of Israel." In the trailer on 2 verso, the date is written as September 13, not 15.

EventsBuilding of Occom’s house

  Much Reſpected and Hon.d Sir. 
My Affairs have ſo crowded me that I han't  found Leiſure to write you of the State of this Indian School, as  ^you deſired & ^ I deſign'd when I had the Pleaſure you gave me at your House  laſt Spring. nor can I now more than gratify you with a few  Hints; in Hopes I may have More Leiſure by & by [gap: tear] or perhaps  the opportunity to wait upon you at your own House [gap: tear][guess: a]gain be ­fore winter.
M.r Occom, in Conſequence of the Appointment which I in­ form'd you of, ſat out on his long journey to the ſix Nations, on  the 10th of June laſt, (accompanied by David the youth who  was with me at your House laſt Spring) by the way of New­  ­York, where he tarried ſeveral Days, & preach'd in M.r Boſtwic^k^  Meeting House to an Aſsembly vaſtly Numerous; at which  was collected £ 70. for his use. And the Evening following at the  Baptiſt's Meeting House £ 13. their Currancy: And received  the fulleſt Recommendations from the principle Gentlemen  in the City. I have ſince received a Letter from him Dated  German Flatts. July 7. Informing y.t he had met with un­ common Kindneſs, & Reſpect every where. And that Genl  Amherſt had given him the Strongeſt Paſs, & Recom̅endati ­on to all his Officers, &c. And also that Gen.l Johnſson, who  was there on his way to the Detroit, with Preſents to the Indians  had promiſed him his Aſsiſtance, and design'd the next Day  to introduce him to the Oneida Nation. I have also of  the Same Date and from the Same Place, a Letter from  Genl Johnſon, which came by the Hands of Three Mohawke  Lads two of [illegible] which were Sent by the Gen.l to this School in  Complyance illegible with my deſire by Letter to him that he would  ſend me ſix promiſing Youth of those Nations. Three to  be ſupported by the Hon.le Scotiſh Com̅iſs.rs, And the  other Three I venture to take in Addition to the ſix which  I had before to be the Subjects of Such Charities, as God  ſhall diſpose the Hearts of his People to beſtow upon this  occaſion. And the Gen.l informs me, he hopes, as he paſses  thro' the Other Nations on his Way, he ſhall be able to ſend  me 3. or 4. more ſo as to compleat the Number which I wrote  for. And I am now daily Expecting them here.
When these came I was much at a loſs what might be his  End in coming, who was not recommended by the Gen.l; but  ſince we have learnt to underſtand them a little better, I am  fully perſuaded the Caſe was thus. After the Gen.l had ſent away  those two, the Other underſtanding their Deſign, and being deſi­ rous of Learning as well as they, went after the Gen.l, but he  now got too far on his way to be overtaken, where upon he con­ cluded to run the venture of coming without Recommendation
They all behave very well hitherto. And it is quite agreable   to ſee them with the reſt Generally ſo well ingaged in their ſtudies.
Tho' one without Experience can well conceive the Difficulty  there is in Educating them.
David is not yet return'd nor do I expect him 'till those other  Ladds come, if before M.r Occom returns from his Miſsion.  But one of the Girls which I have been ſo long expecting is yet  come. M.r Brainerd wrote me in the Spring that those expected  from Delaware, had been detained by Sickneſs, and one was then  not likely to recover, however that I might expect two by the  Firſt Veſsel.
M.r Kirtland's Son, a Charity­Schollar, and promiſing Youth,  who is now at this School fitting for a Miſsion, is learning the  Mohawke Language of the Boys, as fast as he can under the  Diſadvantage of having no Books, nor Interpreter to help  him. And So are also ſeveral of the Indian Boys.
I here ſend you incloſed a Speciman of the writing of my two  Delawares, and I doubt not you would be much pleaſed to  hear them read Lattin & Greek.
As to those Signatures & Traces of Judaiſm which have in­ clin'd me to believe our American Indians to be the 10 Tribes  of the House of Israel, ^I am not in a Capacity to ſet ym in ſuch a Light as I hope I may be^. ſeveral of which them we diſcourſd of, ſuch  as Their Languages being generally Guttural, & Abounding in prefixes  & Suffixes agreable to the Hebrew. Their use of y.e word Higgai­ nan in their Singing, which I ſuſpect to be the Same with Higgaion  used by the Sweet Singer of Israel Their Sacrifices, eſpecially  of the pascal Lamb. (for want of which they use a Faun) ſo agrea­ ble to the Mosaic Rites. Their cutting out the Hollow of the Thigh  when they can give no Reaſon for it but Tradition, and ſay that  all good Indians have done ſo, which I had from an old man  of good credit who was in his youth a Mighty Hunter among  them. Their Avenging Murther by the neareſt of kin. Their Se­ paration of their Women for uncleaneſs. & their Purification &c   There Is, beſides These, and many Such like, one which I dont rem­ ember to have diſcourſed with you of, and which is with me as  weighty as almoſt any I have heard, and which I ſhould be glad of  your Thoughts upon. I had it from that dear man of God the  Rev.d David Brainerd a little before his Death. and perhaps the  Diſcovery never was So fully made by any other. He gave it me  a little before his Death, as he had it from one of their Powows, then  lately converted to chriſtianity under his Minſtry among them.  He told me that the ſpirit which their Powows are at certain Times  under the Influence Inſpired with, & under the Influence of, and which  makes them So much the fear & Dread of the Indians, was as exact  an Imitation of a Spirit of Propheſy as he could conceive the  Devil capable of. that they were Seers and could See the Hearts  Thoughts, Purposes, & Intentions of others they were concerned with, as  plain as one could ſee an opaque Body in a tranſparent Glaſs, they  would charge men with what they had done in Secret & make  them own it. and pretend to 'tell Fatuities, viz. what ſucceſs the  Enquirers would have in Hunting or War, in which Caſe they [illegible] are  were much used. (and [illegible] ^perhaps^ could 'tell as much as the Devil  Knew in these Caſes) and when the Spirit was gone from them they  were but as other men.
Now when I conſider how y.e false Spirit has all along imitated y.e  Time and the great advantage he has thereby made to get ye ſubjects  of it fast in his Snare. and what advantage he may be Supposd to  have got of ye 10 Tribes in this way, after ye Time ſince of Prophiſie
was wholly Loſt among them, and not only a Sp.t of Prophiſie  but humane Literature with it. I cant but think there is weight  in it.
as to what has been ſaid by Some y.t the Names of Several  Animals ^in their Language^ are ye very Same with the Hebrew: perhaps when we are  able to Send Miſsionaries among them who are well inſtructed in the  Hebrew Tongue we may be furniſhed with ye fulleſt Evidence from  that Quarter. I hope my dear Little Jacob, who is now just  out of his 2.d Year at New Jerſie College, and is one of y.e Delaware  Tribe, may be the very man to oblige us with ſome new Diſcove­ ries of the Nature.
The getting exact Information of these things, and Setting them  in a true and proper Light will require Time and Pains.
I have lately been (I cant Say diſagreably) amaſed with a Letter  from M.r Emrie to M.r John Erſkine in Scotland, in manuſcript  wherein he Supposes he has fully proved from the word of God yt  The Indians in North America are the 10 Tribes of the House of  Israel, were baniſshed ^hither^ into the Wilderneſs of the Peoples, and their  origional conceald under enigmatical Propheſies, that they  might not be recond among the Nations, 'till Now the Time  of their Deliverance is at Hand. I have only had y.e Favour.  of a curſory reading of it, I apprehend there is a great deal of  Insenuity in what he has wrote if nothing more. —
I was much encouraged in the Proſecution of this grand  Affair by what I met with at Boſton laſt Spring, perticular­ ly the generous and Seaſonable Bequeſt, of that truly noble  Lord the Marquess of Lothain , and others. which I look'd  upon as an Answer to Prayer, and was encouragd thereby  to enlarge the Number of My Schollars, And hope I ſhall  find what has been done to have been but an Earniſt of  greater Supplies as they Shall be needed.
I doubt not, my dear Sir, Your are ready to do any  thing in Your Power to promote it. And I truſt among  the many Expreſsions of ^your^ unmerited Kindneſs you will not  fail to remember in your devoutest Hours. him, who is  with moſt ſincere Reſpect, Sir.
Your moſt Obliged Friend   and Humble ſervant Eleaz.r Wheelock 
M.r John Smith  ^[left]John Smith Sepr 1761^   
My Dear & Hon'd Sir. 
not knowg w.t Improvemt You may  think fit to make of the incloſd, (as I ſubmitt  to your own Judgment to ſend it to your Corriſ­ pondent if you pleaſe) I tho't proper to im­ prove this Cover to Acknowledge the moſt  generous Expreſsions of your Reſpect to me  and this Indian Affair in Yours of July 23. 1761  and the Copy of yours to your Freind &c   and Rectify a little miſtake or two in your  acco.t to him. viz. M.r Occom never lived at  College. he had all ye Learning which he had  of me and my ſon in Law, who took my ſchool  when he came out of College and kept it one  year at Hebron, Also the Number of  Charity Indian ſchollars [illegible] when I was at your  house was ſix. M.r Emries Lett.r mentiond  in the incloſd I had by M.r Wm Hyſlop's  procurement & I pray you would give him  opportunity to read the incloſd perhaps  there may be ſomething here useful to him  and which he has not yet received from  me. I am with moſt sincere Reſpect  to you & Madm 
your unworthy Br   & hum.le ſervt  Eleazr Wheelock
Mr John ſmith   
[left]Lett.r to M.r John Smith  Boston.J Sept. 13.  1761